The Jakarta Post
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a global body of plantation companies, refiners, consumers and environmental groups that advocates for socially, environmentally and economically sustainable palm oil, has decided to set the bar higher in defining sustainable practices.
The organization is finalizing the details of tough new sustainability standards under broad criteria that include bans on deforestation, fires and peatland planting as well as rules relating to carbon emissions, human rights and transparency.
'We plan to launch this initiative at our annual conference next year,' RSPO co-chairperson Biswaranjan Sen said at the RSPO's 13th annual conference in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
About 800 delegates from around 50 countries attended the conference and together mounted this stronger campaign for sustainable palm oil, only a few weeks after the worst-ever forest fires and haze crisis hit Indonesia and badly affected Malaysia and Singapore.
Chen Ying, a delegate from China, the world's largest importer of palm oil, noted there had been an increasing awareness among industries and consumers in China around the importance of socially and environmentally sustainable palm oil.
She presented at the conference guidelines for overseas investment in sustainable palm-oil production put together by Chinese companies. The document is by and large modeled on the principles and criteria used by the RSPO for its certification scheme since 2008.
'Our regional objective is to achieve a 100 percent market uptake of certified sustainable pam oil in Europe, 50 percent in Indonesia and Malaysia, 30 percent in India and 10 percent in China by 2020,' RSPO Secretary General Datuk Darrel Webber added.
Ariane Louwaege of the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil confirmed that the EU as a whole had been committed to 100 percent sourcing of sustainable palm oil by 2020, and that several countries, such as Britain, may even achieve it much earlier.
'We in Europe recognize only sustainable palm oil as certified under the RSPO principles and criteria,' Louwaege noted.
Meanwhile, Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for 85 percent of global palm-oil usage, are still struggling to realign their respective sustainability standards in light of the new unified certification scheme.
The principles of sustainable management promoted and assessed by the RSPO in its certification process include such elements as transparency, legal and regulatory compliance, best production practices, environmental responsibility and a commitment to local community development.
The RSPO reported that as of Oct. 12, 1 million tons, or 20 percent, of global palm-oil production had been certified as sustainable and 50 percent of that volume was derived from Indonesia. (vin)(+)
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